In recent articles like Acts 29 Network And Reformed Counter Reformation Spirituality and John Piper, Rick Warren & Foster-Willardism I’ve expressed concern here at Apprising Ministries about so-called New Calvinism, which itself appears to be a postmodern form of Calvinism embracing both Reformation theology and the spurious spirituality of Counter Reformation Roman Catholicism. [1]

Then last week in Mark Driscoll Has Personal Revelations From Jesus I showed you some disturbing information concerning the head of the Acts 29 church planting network so influential among the Young, Restless & Reformed camp. For example, Driscoll now tells us, “I start getting prophetic dreams. God’s showing me the future.”

Let me remind you now, that statement comes from a 2008 message called Introduction to Spiritual Warfare. Since Mark Driscoll also says in that message he’s a cessationist, it seems in 2008 he still considered himself such; but apparently, these “prophetic dreams” contributed to changing that. There appears to be another factor figuring in as well.

Consider the following from a September 2008 post by Driscoll, which he called Obedience. As he discusses “transformation” he sounds a bit Emergent as he tells us, “Sadly, it has been believed by some Christians that information alone will result in transformation.” Resisting the urge to wrestle with the serpent, I’ll just say that’s a straw man.

Driscoll’s arguing in this piece for the practice of the nebulous “spiritual disciplines,” which are all the rage right now as a new wave of pietism sweeps throughout mainstream evangelicalism. That’s why the below is quite telling as to what furthered Driscoll’s theological drift:

(Online source)

Both  Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster and Gary Thomas, whom I discuss further in Dr. Ed Young Promoting Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism For His Southern Baptists, are advocates for corrupt Counter Reformation Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM).

Here’s what Dr Gary Gilley had to say about Foster’s Celebration of Discipline from his excellent series called Mysticism:

Celebration of Discipline alone, not even referencing Foster’s other writings and teachings and ministries, is a virtual encyclopedia of theological error. We would be hard pressed to find in one so-called evangelical volume such a composite of false teaching. These include faulty views on the subjective leading of God (pp. 10, 16-17, 18, 50, 95, 98, 108-109, 128, 139-140, 149-150, 162, 167, 182); approval of New Age teachers (see Thomas Merton below); occultic use of imagination (pp. 25-26, 40-43, 163, 198); open theism (p. 35); misunderstanding of the will of God in prayer (p. 37); promotion of visions, revelations and charismatic gifts (pp. 108, 165, 168-169, 171, 193); endorsement of rosary and prayer wheel use (p. 64); misunderstanding of the Old Testament Law for today (pp. 82, 87); mystical journaling (p. 108); embracing pop-psychology (pp. 113-120); promoting Roman Catholic practices such as use of “spiritual directors,” confession and penance (pp. 146-150, 156, 185); and affirming of aberrant charismatic practices (pp. 158-174, 198). (Online source)

Not at all someone who adhere’s to Reformed theology needs. Let me also focus your attention upon Thomas’ book Sacred Pathways (SP). From my personal copy of SP I can tell you that Thomas shares with his readers a form of “mantra meditation,” which is traced to Dom (father) John Main (1926-1982).

It’s important to note that Main was an apostate Roman Catholic priest and monk of the Order of Saint Benedict (OSB). He’s also universally known by those in the so-called “contemplative tradition” as the man who rediscovered “the practice of pure prayer, or Christian meditation.”

Not upon Scripure mind you; no, this is using a “holy phrase” also known as a mantra in order to enter into an altered state of consciousness. Chapter 9 of Thomas’ SP happens to be a veritable ode of praise for sola Scriptura-repudiating contemplative mystics, which those who push this semi-ascetic pietism are so fond of romancing.

Thomas dreams the following mythology about mystics telling us they:

simply want to bathe in the ocean of love God has for his children, while the rest of us seem unfortunately content to experience that love drop by drop.

Thomas then continues on with his romanticizing of mystics as he tells us about the “Acts of Contemplatives,” which he calls “many forms of prayer and activities that contemplatives can make use of in addition to general contemplative prayer.” Next Thomas goes through “The Jesus Prayer,” “Secret Acts of Devotion,” “Dancing Prayer,” “Centering Prayer” (it’s the same as Contemplative Prayer), “Prayer of the Heart,” “Stations of the Cross,” and finally “Meditative Prayer.”

You’ll also see mystics refer to this as “the silence” and/or “wordless prayer”; but, the truth is, it’s nowhere taught in Scripture. Under that section Meditative Prayer Thomas goes into a short spiel about Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, the militantly pro-Roman Catholic Church mystic group who on orders of the Pope functioned very much like a spiritual Counter Reformation Gestapo Unit during the Protestant Reformation; you may have heard of the Inquisition.

Thomas though tells that “The Spiritual Exercises, [of Ignatius of Loyola] helped make mental prayer more popular.”; and this mental prayer Thomas is speaking of here is the crown jewel of CSM, a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness commonly known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP).

You should know that CCP was never practiced or taught by Jesus; nor was it practiced or taught by His Apostles, but rather, it orginated with 4th century desert hermits in Egypt. All of this romancing of mystics sounds quite pious; however, in reality it’s a classic case of seeking individual, personal, experience with God, which by nature is highly subjective.

Frankly, the prolonged practice of CSM does serve to bring the practioner into ignoring the Protestant Reformation. So, this also seems among the contributing factors as to Driscoll’s move away from cessationism. I can also tell you from monitoring Intel along the Internet Front that there is a growing move within the Reformed sectors away from sola Scriptura.

As I said before, what we’ll end up with though is actually the duel authority system we see in the charismatic/Pentecostal movements; the Bible plus continuing revelation. I know because I was saved in a charismatic church and later was involved with the Pentecostal movement as well.

What inevitably ends up happening is a two-fold authority structure. The critical issue here is, if we aren’t adhering to the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura then we really will find ourselves with something quite similar to the Roman Catholic Church.

There will be the Bible plus personal revelation, which essentially ends up having to act like Rome’s teaching magisterium for “interpretation of what Scripture really means.” It’s something to watch carefully because personal revelation always ends up trumping Holy Scripture.

Against this backdrop I now point you to Pornographic Divination by Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs. Johnson begins:

In a post last week, I pointed out that the preposterous claims, unhinged behavior, and spiritual quackery that are so prominent at the charismatic movement’s lunatic fringe are by no means limited to the outer edges.

Goofiness and gullibility are necessary byproducts of a belief system that fails to take seriously the principle of sola Scriptura and its ramifications (i.e., the authority and sufficiency of Scripture).

Here’s a sample of the kind of thing I was referring to: The video below features Mark Driscoll, claiming the Holy Spirit regularly gives him graphic visions showing acts of rape, fornicators in flagrante delicto, and sexual child molesters in the very act.

WARNING: This is an extremely disturbing video, for multiple reasons… (Online source)

You can read this important post from Phil Johnson in its entirety right here.

End Notes:

Back to note 1 — The corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), a repackaged Roman Catholic mysticism, taught by the dubious duo of Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, along with his spiritual twin Dallas Willard, is openly recommended in that camp; often referred to as so-called Spiritual Formation.

See also: